We are reading and understanding more about empathy these days. How do we more deeply consider things from another’s perspective? And how can this help us in our careers and businesses?

Empathy and human-centered design are used to drive innovation and problem-solving. To help guide your approach, an Empathy Map Canvas can be a helpful framework. It is a tool many organizations use as they consider the values and needs of people as it relates to their business, including Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, Stanford University, and the global design company IDEO.

Here's how it works:

Beginning with your goal, you and/or your team complete the map clockwise, considering the needs of your audience in each section, starting with “Seeing” and moving on to “Saying,” “Doing,” and “Hearing.” You will then move to the center to focus on what your subjects think and feel. Below are some key questions to examine and a link to the Empathy Map Canvas.

1. WHO are we empathizing with?

2. What do they NEED to do?

3. What do they SEE?

4. What do they SAY? Don't put your words into their mouth -- the point is to truly understand and empathize with their situation so you can design a better product, service, etc.

5. What do they DO?

6. What do they HEAR?

7. What do they THINK and FEEL?

After you’ve completed the Empathy Map, ask others to review your map, make suggestions, and add details or context. The more the Empathy Map includes the better, as it will help you improve your relationships and your results.

Download the Empathy Map Canvas (PDF download), which appears in Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers by David Gray.

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